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Articles from the April 12, 2013 edition


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  • From Rummikub to the 'God Particle:' A timeline of Israeli innovations

    Marcella Rosen, JTA|Apr 12, 2013

    NEW YORK (JTA)—While a great deal of international and media focus has been placed on Israel’s military conflicts, the country quietly has become an energetic, ambitious incubator of entrepreneurialism and invention. What follows is a timeline chronicling some of the most important and interesting innovations produced by Israelis during their country’s 65-year existence. RUMMIKUB (1940s): Ephraim Hertzano invents the smash hit board game Rummikub, which goes on to become the best-selling game...

  • In Germany, some closure for the son of survivors

    Adam Friedman, JTA - First person|Apr 12, 2013

    NEW YORK (JTA)—As a child of Holocaust survivors, I have always managed to avoid visiting Germany. Part of my parents’ legacy was never to visit the country, with its dark past—not even to own any products in our home that were made in Germany. Despite my reluctance to visit Germany, an opportunity arose that I could not forgo. A professional group to which I have belonged for 10 years was holding a meeting in Wiesbaden—the day after Yom Kippur, no less. As the international group of about 40 includes many friends and people with whom I regul...

  • Thatcher remembered for her affection for Britain's Jews

    Ron Kampeas, JTA|Apr 12, 2013

    WASHINGTON (JTA)—History will remember former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for relentlessly facing down communism and helping to turn back more than three decades of socialist advance in her country. But it was Thatcher’s embrace of British Jews and insistent promotion of Jews in her Conservative Party that inspired an outpouring of tributes from Jewish and Israeli leaders following her death April 8 at 87. Thatcher, who suffered from dementia in her later years, died peacefully aft...

  • Eastern European communities overwhelmed by costs of cemetery upkeep

    Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA|Apr 12, 2013

    (JTA)—Every month or so, a highly emotional email lands in the inbox of Martin Kornfeld, CEO of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Slovakia. The authors invariably are Western tourists appalled by the neglect they witnessed during visits to one of the hundreds of Jewish cemeteries scattered across the country. Often their emails concern the final resting place of their relatives amid overgrown grasses and overturned tombstones. “They want us to fix it,” Kornfeld told JTA. “But ours is a sma...

  • Open-mindedness another casualty in Syrian fighting

    Michel Stors, The Media Line|Apr 12, 2013

    SALMA, Latakia, Syria—The village of Bayt Swalkha in the coastal province of Latakia bears the physical scars of the Syrian civil war. Piles of stones are all that remain of rows of houses. Municipal buildings have been reduced to blackened skeletons. But while the destroyed infrastructure will eventually be rebuilt, it is the emotional wounds that are irreparable. For in villages like these throughout Latakia, the sectarian harmony that prevailed for decades has been shattered by a civil war that has increasingly taken on a religious bent. Of...

  • New book focuses on secularization in Israeli life

    Apr 12, 2013

    BEERSHEVA, Israel—Dramatic secularization changes have occurred in significant aspects of Israelis’ public and private lives, according to a new book, “Between State and Synagogue” (Cambridge University), by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) professor Guy Ben-Porat. “Rather than adopt a coherent religious or secular identity, the majority of Jewish Israelis continue to maintain at least some beliefs, identities and practices that can be described as religious,” says Ben-Porat, author and lecturer in BGU’s Department of Public Policy...

  • For Naama and Toledo, it's been a love affair

    Bob Jacob, Cleveland Jewish News|Apr 12, 2013

    The love affair between Naama Shafir and the city of Toledo, Ohio, began five years ago. That’s when the 18-year-old girl from Hoshaya, Israel, packed her bags and went to the Glass City. She knew no one there and knew little English. Little did she know that she would emerge as the greatest player in Toledo women’s basketball history. So, how did Shafir arrive from that tiny community of about 350 families halfway between Haifa and Tiberius to the city of Toledo, with its more than 250,000 res...

  • Pact of pariahs forming between Iran and Hungary's Jobbik

    Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA|Apr 12, 2013

    BUDAPEST, Hungary (JTA)—The potholed streets leading to Tiszavasvari’s rusty train station offer no clue that this sleepy town of 12,000 in eastern Hungary is considered the “capital of Jobbik,” the country’s ultranationalist, anti-Jewish party whose name means “better.” The first sign appears near the office of the mayor, Erik Fulop, the first of five Jobbik politicians elected to run a Hungarian municipality. Shortly after taking office in 2010, Fulop set up a twinning arrangement b...

  • Seeking Kin: A towed car hooks up cousins again

    Hillel Kuttler, JTA|Apr 12, 2013

    The Seeking Kin column aims to help reunite long-lost relatives and friends. BALTIMORE (JTA) – Some people search the world for those they knew before time and circumstance intruded. David Scherr was sitting at his desk at a Baltimore auto repair shop when the lost walked through the door. The amiable Scherr was working in the front office of K&S Associates when a tan Volvo station wagon was towed in this winter with electrical problems. Over the course of several days, Scherr regularly u...

  • Job burnout can severely compromise heart health says TAU researcher

    Apr 12, 2013

    TEL AVIV—Americans work longer hours, take fewer vacation days and retire later than employees in other industrialized countries around the globe. With such demanding careers, it’s no surprise that many experience job burnout—physical, cognitive and emotional exhaustion that results from stress at work. Researchers have found that burnout is also associated with obesity, insomnia and anxiety. Now Dr. Sharon Toker of Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Management and her fellow researchers—professors Samuel Melamed, Shlomo Berliner, David Zeltser a...

  • Security prep for Memphis Klan rally seen as national model

    Ron Kampeas, JTA|Apr 12, 2013

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. (JTA)—Cantor Ricky Kampf descends from the bimah, adjusts his prayer shawl and strides up the aisle, cutting through the cavernous sanctuary to greet the familiar out-of-towner. “Y’all here for the shindig?” Kampf says at the Baron Hirsch Synagogue here as he grasps the hand of Paul Goldenberg, the burly former cop who runs the Secure Community Network, the security arm of the national Jewish community. The shindig in question is a Ku Klux Klan rally planned for later that da...

  • Kosher scandals like Doheny are rare, but not unheard of

    Gil Shefler, JTA|Apr 12, 2013

    NEW YORK (JTA)—Less than a day before the start of Passover, the phone rang at the Brooklyn home of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky. On the line were concerned members of the Rabbinical Council of California, a rabbinical association in Los Angeles that provides kosher certification, among other services. The RRC had just discovered that Mike Engelman, the owner of Doheny Glatt Kosher Meats, had smuggled uncertified meat into his store, and the West Coast rabbis needed the guidance of their East Coast colleague. “It was obvious to all of us that we nee...

  • Yes, you can hike in a wheelchair

    Abigail Klein Leichman|Apr 12, 2013

    Thirty years ago, Israeli hiker Amos Ziv observed a group of visually impaired teens out on a nature trail. They were having a rough time of it, and Ziv decided the only solution was for him to find a way for people with disabilities to experience the great outdoors safely and enjoyably. That’s the story behind LOTEM, a nonprofit organization that now serves about 30,000 Israelis every year through a range of nature clubs and outdoor programs geared to children and adults with physical, c...

  • Jewish rebel pursues interracial romance in a controversial Dutch film

    Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA|Apr 12, 2013

    AMSTERDAM (JTA)—The dreamy expression of a child at a chocolate factory slowly spreads across Geza Weisz’s handsome face as he watches the quivering breasts and buttocks of young black women dancing around him at an Amsterdam nightclub. The scene appears in “Only Decent People,” a dark and provocative Dutch-language film that examines the fraught relations between the country’s Jews and other minorities and stars Weisz, a Jewish Amsterdammer and a major movie star in Holland. Based on a 2009 be...

  • Broadway musicals and the Holocaust

    Rabbi Rachel Esserman, The Vestal, N.Y. Reporter|Apr 12, 2013

    Can Broadway musicals teach us about changing American attitudes to the Holocaust? In “Echoes of the Holocaust on the American Musical Stage” (McFarland and Co., Inc, Publishers), Jessica Hillman, an assistant professor of theater and dance at the State University of New York at Fredonia, uses eight Broadway shows to examine how this “unique American art form” has served as a “venue for playing out our cultural obsession with Nazism and the Holocaust.” Her focus is on the public perceptions of the Holocaust and how, as popular opinion changed,...

  • In aftermath of Boston Marathon bombings, Israeli Independence Day fetes are toned down

    Gil Shefler|Apr 12, 2013

    NEW YORK (JTA)—Israeli Independence Day celebrations in Boston were muted and security was increased in the wake of bombings that left three dead and dozens injured at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Mike Rosenberg, director of community relations at Maimonides, a Jewish day school in suburban Brookline, said an event Tuesday commemorating Israel's 65th anniversary had been toned down out of respect for the attack victims and their families. “Messages have gone out to parents and student...

  • Who bombed Boston? Word for now is caution

    Ron Kampeas, JTA|Apr 12, 2013

    WASHINGTON (JTA)—The day after the Boston Marathon bombing, President Obama called it an “act of terrorism.” What kind of terrorism, no one was ready to say—a caution that derives from years of wrongful speculation that on occasion has ruined innocent lives. Hours after the attack Monday that killed three and injured scores, Obama in a television address refrained from using the word “terrorism.” He did use it Tuesday, but wrapped it deep in caveats. “Given what we now know about what took pla...

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